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First for Cyprus as local site offers music downloads March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Games & Gadgets, Media Radio TV, Music Life Greek.
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A digital music service provider for music downloads has teamed up with the Dias Group, one of the biggest media groups in Cyprus.

The new service, www.music.sigmalive.com, offers current and classic Greek music as well as a plethora of genres and categories to satisfy to the most selective fans.

www.Music.sigmalive.com will be the first digital music service designed for Cyprus by mpGreek, offering more than 70,000 Greeks songs available for download.

It will allow users to download music onto their computers from the largest Greek digital catalogue, powered by mpGreek. It has all the features of online previewing, secure payments, digital rights management and full online customer service support.

According to a press release, “mpGreek has simplified the user experience with more features and even more content. Consumers can easily buy music encoded in high audio quality from major and independent record labels. Users can rate the songs they see on sigmalive.com and send an e-dedication email with an audio preview and a small note to any email address.”

Prices are 1.10 euro per track. Purchased downloads can be burned onto CDs, transferred to compatible portable devices, and used on up to ten PCs.

“For quite some time, the Cyprus market has been in need of a legal way to download music,” said Michael Rizos, mpGreek business development director. “The music industry of Cyprus has been affected by internet piracy and consumers could not buy Greek repertory online. At mpGreek we believe that our collaboration with a group of such prestige and scope as Dias, means that the Greek musical range will be sold with great success at sigmalive.com, a compact and informed portal.”

Also commenting was Sillia Vasiliou, Web Manager of Sigma Radio TV Public Ltd. “Sigma Live is the only legal site in Cyprus and the island’s first complete internet portal. As our slogan says, it has everything.” She said that the internet, “has transformed how we share information. From illegal downloads of music and video to illicit DVDs and counterfeit designer goods, there isn’t anything that’s not being replicated illegally.

“Internet piracy can be viewed as a method of not paying and those in favour simply see themselves as ‘information sharers’. It is a fact that people don’t want to pay high legitimate prices, so they often go to pirate sites. On the other hand, iTunes is now the third-largest seller of music in the US reporting worldwide sales exceeding three billion songs. And the growth-rate of digital-music transactions is significant.”

Included on the Sigma site is live streaming video and audio, podcasts and much more, giving the user the possibility to legally own the digital Greek music he or she loves.
Visitors to the site can also enjoy continuous news, sport, lifestyle and business updates, as well as interact and express their views. “We position Sigma Live as a one-stop information and entertainment online shop,” Vasiliou said.


Greece’s OTE selects Ericsson for IPTV project March 13, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV, Technology, Telecoms.
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Ericsson has been selected to act as end-to-end IPTV systems integrator, solution provider and business consultant for tier one Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE SA).

The integrated IPTV solution for OTE comprises of headend systems from Tandberg Television, part of the Ericsson group, middleware application, content distribution platform and a customized and flexible consumer portal. The solution will also involve complete implementation and integration of tools for operational management.

Ericsson was chosen for its proven ability to deliver a complete IPTV solution that meets the market demands. The IPTV solution will enable OTE to offer new and sophisticated services to its consumers. The initial offer will include a wide variety of broadcast channels, video on demand, electronic program guide, and personal video recorder capabilities.

Ericsson offers an end-to-end IPTV solution consisting of IPTV middleware, video on demand, network-based PVR, IPTV headends, content protection, IPTV infrastructure, systems integration and IPTV applications such as games. Ericsson has to date signed more than 180 IPTV contracts. Those include commercial contracts, trials, IPTV System Integration projects, IPTV headend contracts and IPTV infrastructure contracts for access, metro transport and IP Edge.

Ericsson is the world’s leading provider of technology and services to telecom operators. The market leader in 2G and 3G mobile technologies, Ericsson supplies communications services and manages networks that serve more than 185 million subscribers. The company’s portfolio comprises mobile and fixed network infrastructure, and broadband and multimedia solutions for operators, enterprises and developers. The Sony Ericsson joint venture provides consumers with feature-rich personal mobile devices. 

Greece’s Forthnet eyes pay tv operator NetMed NV March 11, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV, Telecoms.
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Greece’s alternative telecom and ISP provider Forthnet said it has submitted a binding offer for pay tv operator NetMed NV for an unspecified amount.

NetMed is the parent company for several companies, including NetMed Hellas and Multichoice Hellas, which provide pay TV services in Greece and Cyprus.

The price is expected to be agreed upon after the conclusion of the due diligence process, said Forthnet. Recently, GO plc and Emirates International Telecoms Malta Limited (EITML) acquired a 21% stake in Forthnet.

Illegally placed advertisements removed November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV.
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Work crews removed billboards in Maroussi, northern Athens, yesterday as the local Municipality pushes ahead with plans to clean up the district’s streets of illegally placed advertisements.

Experts say there are an estimated 15,000 illegal advertising signs around Athens, representing an industry valued at around 200 million euros per year. Advertising companies have often been accused of using heavy-handed tactics to keep their advertisements in place.

Chaos of Athens as seen from the sky November 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV, Transport Air Sea Land.
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Helicopter reporter’s view of traffic jams

‘Even on the Attiki Odos there are problems, mostly due to poor construction. Drivers heading for Lamia are channeled into a single lane. If that backs up, so do the rest.’

At peak hours, his job has him far from Athens’s traffic jams, but he shares commuters’ woes. “You’d expect me to have got used to it after so long, but one never does,” said Dimitris Koliomichalis, one of the country’s few flying reporters. Head of Skai Television’s traffic department, every day he flies over Athens in a helicopter to report on the situation in the city’s main streets. His reliable and often graphic reports from the air have earned him fans among professional drivers and ordinary commuters, many of whom don’t leave home before they hear his reports.

Everything looks smaller, more insignificant from above, he says, everything except the traffic. “Every day I get desperate at the sight of what lies below me. Desperate for my fellow-citizens, the endless working hours lost, the time wasted,” he says. Every morning and evening he is a silent witness to an undeclared war. “That’s just what it looks like. We pit ourselves against a formidable monster, and we always lose.”

Just a few days ago, when truck drivers abandoned their juggernauts on the National highway outside the city, Dimitris witnessed a traffic jam stretching for 19 kilometers. “A few days later, a truck broke down on the Nea Philadelphia bridge and all hell broke loose. It is not only the demonstrations, but the poor state of the roads everywhere, our terrible driving, the absence of police. Only if the police ensure that there is road assistance for heavy vehicles at regular intervals along the highway will we be able to avoid bottlenecks. At the moment, if one truck overturns, the whole city comes to a standstill.”

Dimitris can guess which roads will be blocked at certain hours of the day. Both main highways, Schistos, Kifissias and Katehaki Avenues, the coast road. “Those are the most difficult arteries in Attica. The worst days are Monday and Friday, barring the unforeseen,” he added.

He has noticed that the traffic police tend to downplay the extent of the problem. “Often I hear one thing and see another. Even on the Attiki Odos there are problems, mostly due to poor construction. For example, drivers heading for Lamia are channeled into a single lane. If that backs up, so does the rest of the Attiki Odos.”

Still, despite the fact that he is often the bearer of bad news, Koliomichalis loves his job. “I think that I help people and that gives me satisfaction. And don’t forget that Athens looks nice from above, although the longer you spend in the air the more it turns into a monstrous concrete jungle. But watching a sunset from the sky is indescribable,” he admits. Back on the ground, at least he knows which roads to avoid.

The birth of Greek style in the Sixties November 7, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums, Books Life Greek, Media Radio TV.
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The golden era of graphic design as seen in the work of Michalis Katzourakis, Freddy Karabot and Agni Katzouraki > The GNTO’s albums and leaflets bore the unmistakable style of the three designers. In one of their photographs, a piggy bank takes the place of the globe in one of Citibank’s first advertisements in Greece.   

Once upon a time there were three friends. Actually there were two friends and a couple. Michalis Katzourakis, Freddy Karabot and Agni Katzouraki met in Athens in the late 1950s and left their mark on the golden era of Greek graphic design.

Their posters, for the nascent Greek tourist industry, logos, and advertisements ushered in sweeping changes in the field. Fans of modernism, they introduced a fresh minimalist look that was also very Greek. With direct and indirect allusions to antiquity, the Byzantine tradition and folk art, suffused with humor, they created an internationally recognizable Greek look and were the forerunners of an attractive, modern Greek style.

Their contribution, little known outside their field, is now coming to the attention of a broader public, thanks to a new book «Design Routes» in progress, and an exhibition that will be held at the Benaki Museum early next year.

In 1957, National Technical University of Athens professor Panos Moliotis introduced Karabot, a graduate of Chelsea and St Martin’s School of Art in London, to Katzourakis, a graduate of Paul Colin’s school of graphic arts in Paris, who had also done a brief stint at Greka, a leading advertising firm. A year later, Karabot recommended Katzourakis to the publicity office of the Greek Tourism Organization (GNTO), where the former was already working.

In 1961, Katzourakis won the second prize at the International Advertising Poster Exhibition in Leghorn in Italy. In July the following year, he rang Karabot and said: «K and K.» This time they had won the first and second prize at Leghorn, among 1,300 posters from 40 countries. Katzourakis took first prize for his poster «Daktyliolithos» and Karabot second for «Greece: Reflections of an Island» both published by GNTO. That year Picasso won a prize in the same exhibition for his poster, «Cote d’Azur».

Soon afterward the pair founded their own promotion and advertising firm, K & K. «Our logo had one K in black and the other in red, so we got along well with everyone,» recalls Karabot. They brought in two more friends as colleagues, Dimitris Tsopelas with vast experience in publishing and graphic arts, and Panayis Kanavos for exhibition and indoor and outdoor installations.

«Our endeavor,» explains Katzourakis, «was to take posters beyond detailed illustration to acquire a vital visual function by linking a spare visual element with a clear message.» They introduced concept to Greek advertising.

At that time terracotta and blue dominated posters on the subject of Greece. «We designed posters with photographs of ancient sculptures in clear, bright colors, using a lot of red which was very daring at the time.»

Also at the time, he explained, there was a lot of personal contact with firms. «We spoke directly to employers, presidents and managers. They had chosen us, they trusted us and we could work with complete freedom. Now, to get a proposal through, it has to go past dozens of people, marketing…»

The initiative for the book came from designer Dimitris Arvanitis, a fervent admirer of the two Greek design gurus. «My involvement in the book was a debt to my roots, our roots. For more than a year I gained experience by observing their approach to every problem of visual communication they had to solve.»

It wasn’t easy. Arvanitis had to scour archives for newspaper cuttings, and logos stowed away in files. They look «as fresh as if they had been drawn yesterday,» he notes. «Posters that take your breath away. Difficult work in its simplicity, which remind you that simple isn’t easy. I admire their work, much of it done 40 years ago. And I’m amazed at their daring, innovative ideas and designs.» He sees their emergence in the early 1960s as signaling the beginning of the development of design into a new art.

Among the discoveries was Agni Katzouraki: «What I hadn’t realized was her talent and separate existence in design. Now that the files and the signatures on the work are being classified, what has been revealed to me is her extraordinary illustrative maturity. Logos, illustrations, books, full of freshness and brilliance, are the maestro’s legacy to young graphic artists who must, and I am sure will, soon discover them.»

The venture lasted 13 years. In 1975, Katzourakis bowed out. «By the end, we were signing a packet of letters a day, marketing came into our lives in a big way, and what came out was, after much analysis, often not right» Katzourakis concludes: «We lost our zeal, because up until then we’d been a group of friends who did creative work while having fun». That group left Greece a characteristic trademark that is still recognizable half a century later.

NetMed sale mulled November 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV.
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Naspers Ltd, Africa’s largest media company, is considering selling its Greek and Cypriot pay-television operator, NetMed NV.

«Keen interest has been expressed from several potential investors,” Cape Town-based Naspers said in a statement to South Africa’s stock exchange today.